First of all, this indeed is not a comprehensive guide. There is so many pretty little place for you to stop and have a look on this scenic route.
We started from Queenstown airport at around 10am and arrived Mt Cook Village around 5:30pm. It is a 4-hour drive without stop, but there are so many incredible places for you to stop and have a look on this scenic route.
If you travel like us, who only have slightly more than half day move from Queenstown to Mount Cook, those are the food/viewing spot I highly recommend, and you probably don’t want miss.
Queenstown to Lake Hayes &Amisfield Cellar Door
Lake Hayes is a relatively small lake, but this doesn’t mean you should ignore it. On peace and sunny day, this lake is a perfect photo spot. It gave this incredible mirror effect which captures those snow mountains on the surface of the lake.
If I had more time, I would sit next to the lake for a short break, and just look at those birds and ducks, without doing anything. It’s heaven.
Amisfield is a winery I visited every time I passed this section of the road. It has an excellent cellar door, which serves some fairly interesting wine Variety.
Like this time, I tasted this Chenin Blanc, which is originated from Franch and became a very popular grape variety in South Africa, but this is my first time saw in NZ or Australia.
Amisfield is also a very famous restaurant in this area. I was so keen to have lunch here but we didn’t have enough time. You might want to try and tell me how it tastes :).
Lake Hayes to Lindis Pass
(if you want to go Wanaka route, add an extra 1 hr for a stopover at Wanaka)
1 hr 30min
It was winter and the sunset around 5:20pm. We want to arrive mt cook before the dark, that’s why we didn’t add extra time to go Wanaka. Wanaka is a very nice little town, which worth a short trip or a night there. I did my first skydiving there back in 2015. Was a great memory.
There are so many up and down hills on this 1hr 30min drive, and it is easy getting tired. So take every opportunity to take a break, stop at a lookout and drink some water (of course not too many waters because of not many toilets around).
(one of the small lookout)
Lindis Pass lookout is one of the highlights on this drive. It involves a small uphill walk to the viewing platform and can be very muddy during a raining or snowing day.
But every effect to get to that viewing platform will be worth it when you see this fantastic view.
Its mountains, roads, the yellowish colour tone, just like in paint.
Lindis Pass to Twizel
After Lindis Pass, we will arrive Twizel in about 40 min. I highly recommended you to stop here, top up your petrol, and get some grocery from the supermarket here. This is the last big town before the Mt Cook, and Mt Cook village don’t have a lot of food options. We enjoyed some fruits and some local juice when we were in our Mt Cook village hotel. This is a supply stop, and you will thank me for this.
Twizel to Lake Pukaki information centre for Mount Cook Alpine Salmon
This drive requires a little bit of detour but it worth it.
Mount Cook Alpine Salmon farm is the highest altitude salmon farm in the world apparently and use the melted glacier ice water. The farm is not open to the public, but you can get as sashimi as you want at its retail store.
The salmon has its unique sweet and creamy taste, and very fat. It is hard to describe how good it was. It’s an indulgent and is one of the “must try” things in NZ. Plus, the view at the back of the information centre is pretty decent even on a rainy day.
Lake Pukaki Information centre to Lake Pukaki Peter’s Lookout
This is the only lookout that you can see pretty much the whole lake. In a sunny day, the colour of this lake is just unreal. Here is how it look like during a sunny day:
(Photo in Oct 2015, sadly we came to Mt Cook in a cloudy/rainy day in 2018)
Take some photos, and praise the Lake Pukaki for a while. We will soon arrive at Mount Cook Village
Lake Pukaki Peter’s Lookout to Mount cook village
It is hard to describe the last 33 min drive into the village. It feels like the mountain just right in front of you, but when you drive close, it walked away, until the last bit of the 33min.
We drove in, Mt Cook is waving at us. I heard the mountains said, welcome:)
A 4-hour drive can be long and tiring, but this part of the road trip is fairly rewarding. We tasted some wine (I am not the driver so I can drink!), ate the best king salmon sashimi in the world (yes, I said so!), looked the lake and the mountains and arrived the Mt Cook at sunset time. It does make you feel, ah, this trip is good.
See what we hiked in Mt Cook in this blog: